Ka-kaw! January 5 is National Bird Day. Although this day should certainly be spent celebrating the beauty of the thousands of stunning species out there, animal advocacy group Born Free USA also encourages us to focus on the protection of endangered birds. Nearly 12 percent of the world's 9,800 species of feathered friends could face extinction within the next century. That is, of course, unless we do something to help them. Take some time to learn about some species that are currently fighting for survival and learn how you can help.
Habitat: The large blue South American parrot is native to north Argentina, south Paraguay, north-east Uruguay and Brazil.
Why They Are Endangered: Due to trapping and loss of habitat, the last time the bird was seen was in the 1960s. Because of the bird's colorful coat and large size, it probably was a huge target for hunters for food or pet trade. (Bird Life)
Habitat: Cliffs, rocky outcrops and large trees in western America
Why They Are Endangered: In the 1970s, the largest flying bird in North America faced extinction, leaving only one or two dozen birds left. This major decline was due to lead poison ingestion and illegal egg collection. They also mature and reproduce slowly. (National Geographic)
Habitat: Solitary places in rugged coastal mountains of the United States and Russia
Why They Are Endangered: The Kittlitz's Murrelet is known as the most mysterious American seabird. Because of climate change and the glacial recession, these birds have experienced a huge decline in population. Other threats include habitat degradation, mortality in gill-net fisheries and commercial tour-boat traffic. (Center for Biological Diversity)
MADAGASCAR FISH EAGLE
Habitat: Estuaries, mangroves and marine islands in the northwest and inland freshwater rivers and lakes in the Antsalova region in Madagascar
Why They Are Endangered: During the mid-twentieth century, the large bird of prey suffered a major decline in population due to habitat degradation and human disturbance. However, they have always had a small population because of poor juvenile dispersal and incestuous mating. (Arkive)
Habitat: This large, flightless, nocturnal parrot inhabits a range of vegetation throughout most of the North, South and Stewart Islands in New Zealand.
Why They Are Endangered: Over 50% of the adult birds on Stewart Island were killed each year by cats, according to a study by Clout and Merton. In addition, the species is known to have low egg fertility and exceedingly low natural reproductive rates. (Bird Life)
Habitat: Historically, this bird was found in the forests of Cuba and the United States.
Why They Are Endangered: Hunting, logging and clearance for agriculture have all impacted the species' decline. (Bird Life)
Habitat: Forest edge, woodland, farmland, coconut palms, semi-arid areas and forest in Timor-Leste and Indonesia
Why They Are Endangered: Because of illegal trapping for the international caged-bird trade, the population of the Yellow-crested Cockatoo has suffered greatly. In addition, large-scale logging and deforestation have added to the decline. (Parrots)
PUERTO RICAN AMAZON
Habitat: Forested parts of Puerto Rico
Why They Are Endangered: This green parrot has, thankfully, been saved from extinction, but still struggles to survive due to the almost total loss of suitable forest habitat. Over the century, the caged-bird trade, hunting and pest control also affected the bird's demise. Natural disasters such as hurricanes or heavy rainfall thwarts the bird's recovery program. (Bird Life)
Habitat: Tropical grassland, tropical dry forest in Indonesia
Why They Are Endangered: This beautiful bird is in great danger of extinction due to habitat loss, natural disasters and trapping for pet trade. As a result, they are part of a European Endangered Species program where the focus is on ensuring the future of the species. (Bristol Zoo)
Habitat: This enormous albatross can be found on the central plateau on Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean.
Why They Are Endangered: Because these birds are restricted to one small area on one small island, the species has had difficulty surviving. In addition, its breeding sites have been introduced to cattle, other predators and human disturbance. (IUCN Red List)
Habitat: This small brown finch is native to the mangroves of the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.
Why They Are Endangered: Disease and predation are the two main factors contributing to the decline of the Mangrove Finch. A parasite that can be found in the finches' nests not only affected the chicks' survival, but introduced predators such as rats, cats and Smooth-billed Anis. (Durrell)
Population: 1,000–2,499 adult birds
Habitat: Rainforests in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines
Why They Are Endangered: A combination of deforestation and hunting for food and pet trade has affected the hornbill's population decline. In addition, Rufous-headed hornbills reproduce rather slowly. As a result, this bird is extinct on one of the three islands it is known to live on in the Philippines. Little else is known, due to lack of sightings and research. (Bird Life)
Habitat: Wetlands, thickets and the margins of forests in Guam, Saipan, Alamagan, Aguijan and Pagan in the Northern Mariana Islands
Why They Are Endangered: Habitat loss (such as wetland destruction) and the impact of predators are two factors affecting the Nightingale Reed-warbler's critically endangered status. The brown tree snake is primarily to blame for the decline of the species on the island of Guam. (Bird Life)
Habitat: The medium-sized, bulky vulture can be found in a variety of habitats from open countryside and savanna to dry deciduous forest and wooded hills in Asia.
Why They Are Endangered: Several factors are responsible for the demise of the vultures from Asia. Uncontrolled hunting, disease, direct persecution of the birds, increased sophistication of waste disposal techniques and toxin ingestion. (Arkive)
Next: 12 Miracle Animals of 2012
GOLDEN WHITE EYE
Habitat: The golden white-eye is native to wooded areas near steep slopes and cliffs of the Nothern Mariana Islands.
Why They Are Endangered: Once found on all 14 islands, the golden white-eye can now only be seen on two: Aguijan and Saipan. Due to the increase of the human population in Saipan over the last two decades, this species has suffered, almost to the brink of extinction. In addition, the brown tree snake has proven to also be a threat to the bird. (Arkive)